The Qatar National Vision 2030 strategic document recognizes that the future belongs to countries that harness ICT for economic development and mature into knowledge-based economies. To move toward this goal, Qatar has made some progress transforming its energy-based economy into a well-diversified, knowledge-based society. In the last few years, the country has stepped up in updating, building, and integrating their ICT infrastructure and capabilities for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar is emerging as one of leading countries in the world in new technology adaptation, innovation, and system automation. The ICT sector is listed as a priority sector in the national agenda with the sector contributing 1.9 percent to the GDP. The ICT market is currently estimated at $4.4 billion and is expected to grow rapidly in the future, creating a rich environment for U.S. businesses of all kinds to enter the ICT sector.
In late October 2021, the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) demerged into two, separate ministries. The newly formed Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), which is led by HE Mohammed bin Ali bin Mohammed Al Mannai. This ministry is the regulator, facilitator, and the government’s technology advocate. It is focused on modernizing Qatar via the Qatar Smart Nation program, also known as TASMU, a five-year $1.6 billion initiative launched in 2017 to develop Qatar’s ICT infrastructure and transform Doha into one of the most connected cities globally. At QITCOM 2019, Qatar’s largest annual ICT convention and trade show, then-MOTC asserted publicly that TASMU is expected to contribute at least $11 billion to projected nominal gross domestic product to the Qatari economy.
ICT modernization is a central pillar of Vision 2030, since it lays the technology foundation needed to create high-paying jobs of the future, diversify the economy, and attract international companies. U.S. companies seeking to bring their technology products and services to Qatar must keep Qatar’s development goals in mind to resonate with potential investors/partners. Other key drivers for this sector are obtaining trusted partners with trustworthy equipment, hardware, and software, privacy protection for citizens, and mitigation of cybersecurity risks such as data breaches, exploitation, and cyber espionage. Also of deep concern in the ICT sector is the prevention of unauthorized access of sensitive commercial and personal data, which could be used to threaten privacy, economic sovereignty, intellectual property, and the nation’s overall national security.
The Qatar Smart Nation Program, led by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (and with input from numerous other ministries), aims to harness technology and innovation to improve quality of life and help drive sustainable economic development across five priority sectors: Transportation, Logistics, Environment, Healthcare, and Sports.
Individual government agencies, including the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Municipality and Environment, continue their respective “digitization” strategies as part of Qatar’s E-government 2020 objective, creating several opportunities such as developing smart solutions and applications in key sectors using advanced technologies in Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Cloud Computing, Big Data Analytics, and Internet of Things (IoT).
Qatar has made impressive strides and announcements aimed at achieving its Smart Nation goals, including the establishment of a Microsoft Azure Data Center, which was launched in August 2022. Qatar has placed cloud computing at the heart of its digital transformation strategy as it enhances efficiency and productivity. The Communication and Regulatory Authority recently published a Cloud Policy Framework approved by the Cabinet. Cloud services, ICT software and hardware, and services are all forecasted to continue growing in this sector in the coming years.
Sub-Sector Best Prospects
- Cyber Security
- Financial Technology
- Smart City Solutions
- Cloud Services
Opportunities & Major Trade Shows
Qatar has a clear development agenda specifically in the ICT sector and is receptive to working with U.S. companies to procure top-quality, safe, and secure products and services. Large U.S. firms have experienced great success in the sector in recent years, and there are opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) with products and services in the ICT ecosystem to capitalize on having large U.S. firms as anchors in this market. There is an appetite from the Qatari private and public sectors to have more U.S. SME engagement in the market.
The key driver of growth is the large-scale infrastructure-driven and government-led projects in the Construction, Transportation, Logistics, Healthcare, Energy, Environment, Education and Sports sectors.
Press Release _ MCIT Discusses Digital Economy with U.S. Embassy and Industry Chamber
Contact the Commercial Section of the U.S. Embassy for more information.